When asked about being drafted for the Vietnam War, Muhammad Ali is often quoted as saying, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong." This was immediately followed by the now-more-famous quote, “No Viet Cong ever called me n*****,” in a one-two punch of defiance. Ali's "quote" summarized in one glaring sentence the idea that oppression against African-Americans started at home, in the United States, and that, as he saw it, African-Americans were being drafted to fight the wrong fight, against the wrong people. It's one of the most famous sayings from the Vietnam war protest period, but did Ali actually say that phrase, or, more to the point, did Ali coin it? Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!
One of the Republic of India’s Founding Fathers, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is not as well-known outside India as he should be. This Man Crush Monday is the brief story of his life and career, as perhaps the man most responsible for the unification of India between 1947 and 1950. And you’ll also learn why the tallest (that’s right, the tallest) statue in the world is of him.
Douglas MacArthur is one of the most famous and celebrated generals in American history. Along with Patton, however, he’s one of the most misunderstood and most mythologized. Born in the 19th century, MacArthur served in both World Wars, the Korean War, and other, less extensive US military actions. Yet he is also considered another attention hound (like Patton), sometimes overly-dramatic, and often letting his over-inflated view of his own abilities and destiny get in the way of sound judgement. In this Throwback Thursday episode, the Professors look at his career from the end of World War II to his dismissal by Truman in 1951, and try to determine who was the real Douglas MacArthur.
How did the National Rifle Association become one of the most controversial and divisive organizations in American history? It used to be a sportsmen’s group. Since the 1970s, however, it has taken a very strict view of the US Constitution’s Second Amendment and has gone to extremes in its defense of gun ownership. We explain how and why this happened, and dispel historical and cultural myths along the way.
There's a great quote and sentiment about sticking with a righteous movement for much-needed change, particularly when it's faced with a big, entrenched and powerful foe. That quote goes like this: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." It's often attributed to Gandhi. That's not very surprising. But we here at the Buzzkill Institute don't call him the Mahatma of Misquotation for nothing, and as we'll see in a couple of minutes, if you were forced to boil down one of Gandhi's very lengthy and sophisticated arguments to a bumper sticker slogan, the "First they ignore you…" saying would fit, more or less. Find out the full story in this episode!
Douglas MacArthur is one of the most famous and celebrated generals in American history. Along with Patton, however, he’s one of the most misunderstood and most mythologized. Born in the 19th century, MacArthur served in both World Wars, the Korean War, and other, less extensive US military actions. Yet he is also considered another attention hound (like Patton), sometimes overly-dramatic, and often letting his over-inflated view of his own abilities and destiny get in the way of sound judgement. In this Throwback Thursday episode, the Professor looks at his early life and his career through World War II and tries to determine who was the real Douglas MacArthur.
Japan’s defensive perimeter kept shrinking during 1944 and 1945, yet the war dragged on. The battles for Iwo Jima and Okinawa were as bloody and horrific as any others during the Pacific war. Strategic bombing of Japan increased, both from the Asian mainland, and from the Pacific side. Japan eventually surrendered in 1945, but we discuss why that was so complicated and difficult. And we bust the many myths surrounding the “unconditional surrender” of Japan. Listen and learn!
The Harry Truman “quote” about socialism being a Republican scare word is flying around the internet, in response to the over-heated rhetoric of American politics these days. But did “Buck Stops Here” Harry really say it? If so, when, where, and in what context. We explain all in this highly relevant Quote or No Quote episode. Don’t listen to the American news these days without listening to us first!
"Give me liberty or give me death," Virginia patriot Patrick Henry was supposed to have said in a stirring speech before the American Revolution. We Buzzkill this quote and show that, like most "quotes," it was written decades after the event. Download Professor Buzzkill and download death to history myths!
The brutality of World War II in the Pacific continued from Guadalcanal to the Aleutians, from China to the Solomon Islands, and was also a propaganda war at home in Japan and in Allied countries. Professor Nash comes back to tell us about these middle years in the Pacific War, and explain how the power balance shifted to the Allies, and yet why the fighting still took so long and why it was so bloody. Listen and learn!
It's time to go over the top, Buzzkillers! We interview Professor Richard Grayson about the wildly popular BBC television series, BlackAdder, and how close it is to historical reality. There are probably more myths about war than any other part of history, and Black Adder addressed many of them. Let's "go forth!" and see if they got their history right.
Superstar historian, Professor Nash, joins us to talk about the opening years of American involvement in Pacific during World War II. From Pearl Harbor to Midway, it’s a brutal chess match across the Pacific - a chess match that includes massive battles, massive casualties, and massive war crimes. And that’d only through 1942! So this is Part 1 of our WWII in the Pacific series. Listen and learn.
It's a great and heart-warming story, Buzzkillers, but meek and modest Betsy Ross did not design or sew the first American flag. The story itself follows the classic myth pattern, a second-hand family tale that caught on with a receptive public. Listen up as some young American Buzzkillers help set the record straight.
The one thing that everyone knows about Marie Antoinette (Queen of France in the late 18th century) is that, when told that the peasants were starving because they had no bread, said, “then let them eat cake.” How cold is that, Buzzkillers? It’s Royal Arrogance of the First Order. She deserves some kind of medal for her sheer bravado. But did she actually say it? Listen and find out!
Every July, American Buzzkillers get inundated with chain emails, Facebook posts, and Tweets that spread more myths about the Declaration of Independence. No matter how many times they’ve been disproved, the seem to crop up every year. John Hancock signing his name so large that “King George can read it without his spectacles.” And “The Price They Paid” -- the undying email myth about what happened to the signers of the Declaration. We explain these, and a lot more!
Mohandas K. Gandhi should also be known as the Mahatma of Misquotation. Did he ever say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” as we read in so many inspirational tweets and messages? Listen as Professor Buzzkill delves into the origin of this quote in this flashback episode, avoiding snake bite and 1970s urban violence along the way .
Why did Woodrow Wilson get the rock star treatment in Paris in 1919? He arrived to help negotiate the Treaty of Versailles that was supposed to settle World War I. Did he deserve his rock star reputation? Did he get the treaty approved by the US Congress? How did the treaty finally get approved by the Europeans? What was its long term significance and its historical reputation and interpretations? We discuss all!
How did World War I end, and what led to the Paris Peace Conference? How did the Conference proceed, how were the various national demands handled? What territorial changes resulted? And was it a purely European Conference? How did it affect other parts of the world? We discuss all these things and more!
Professor Phil Nash explains how the myths and misconceptions about the Vietnam War started, grew, and have plagued our historical consciousness since the late 1950s. Among other things, the large number of myths about the Vietnam War shows us that our understanding of even relatively recent historical events can be twisted. From the "JFK wouldn't have Americanized the war" to the "POW-MIA" myth, the true history of American involvement in South-East Asia has often been obscured by myths and myth-making. It's one of our very best episodes, and we hope you find it enlightening.
It’s June 12th! Loving Day! Loving Day is being celebrated world-wide. You might think that Loving Day is Valentine’s Day, February 14th, but it’s not, it’s today, June 12th. If you don’t know what Loving Day is, listen to the story we tell you in this brief, special episode. And go to lovingday.org to find out more!
The Professor calls for social and fiscal revolution! Harriet Tubman’s portrait was supposed to replace Andrew Jackson’s on the US $20 bill, but that’s been delayed yet again. In this episode, we explain why change is actually the tradition in the history of American currency, and we insist on more change in the years to come! Of course, our suggestions for changed imagery and design are the best! Listen and join the movement!
Professor Phil Nash explains the history of Vietnam in the 20th century, and the very complicated ways in which it was torn apart by war and civil war throughout the mid-century. Along the way, we learn about the deep complications in the history of the Vietnam War that have allowed myths and misconceptions to solidify. In particular, we talk about how post-World War II wars in Vietnam become Americanized. Finally, we discuss the impact of the war in the United States, as well as its impact in Vietnam itself. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!
D-Day, June 6, 1944, is one of the most well-known events of World War II. Why did it happen the way it did and why did it succeed? Was it the turning point in the war in Europe? How many other military operations were going on at the same time in Europe that might explain victory in Europe? There are so many complications to the story that you need the Buzzkill Institute to help explain it all!
Prof Craig Hammond joins us to discuss the violence used in maintaining slavery, both on the farm/plantation, and in broader society before the Civil War. The violence and terror inflicted on slaves is horrific by our 21st standards. Yet, slave-owners did not consider themselves sadistic torturers. But how did they justify the punishments inflicted on insubordinate slaves, or on slaves suspected of rebellion?